The Oklahoma City Thunder have fared well on the road against bad teams for most of the year, but Thursday's game against the Sacramento Kings in the TNT nightcap promises to be a unique challenge. Not only have the Kings played much better under new coach Keith Smart as of late, but the crowd is expected to be boisterous. This is the Kings' only national TV game of the season, and fans are eager to make a statement to the whole world that the team should not be relocating from Sacramento.
SB Nation's Kings blog Sactown Royalty summed up the effort in this call to action:
We will have the attention of the Sacramento City Council, of the NBA league office and of any potential future owners of or investors in the new facility or the basketball team. (AEG, Burkle ... they are paying attention.) More importantly, we will have the attention of the national media, who won't be able to avoid writing about the amazing fight and panache of the people of Sacramento and our elected leader, Kevin Johnson. The Maloofs tried to leave our city a year ago, and we didn't lay down. We stood up, and we fought. And we're still standing. And we're still fighting. And we won't stop until there are shovels in the ground.
As for the game itself, it promises to be a dogfight. Oklahoma City is 11-4 on the road this season, but those 11 wins have been by an average of just 6.4 points per game. The Kings, meanwhile, had won three in a row before Tuesday's two-point road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.